Director of Safety, Security, & Transportation
for University of Florida Health

After successfully securing a Director of Facilities Operations for University of Florida Health and multiple professionals for the university, we were requested to conduct this search when traditional recruitment methods did not generate ideal candidates. By working collaboratively with our client and tailoring our approach to their specific needs, we were able to complete the search in 73 days.

Working with University of Florida Health (UF Health) previously in completing a search for a Director of Facilities Operations, we were contacted by the institution’s Director, Employment, & Recruitment who was having difficulties in hiring a Director of Safety, Security, & Transportation (Director) following the retirement of the prior director. Even though this role was considered outside of our typical focus at the time, it reports into the same hiring manager as the previously conducted search. After consideration, we felt that we could successfully secure an individual and agreed to assume the search to help our client when they were not successful through traditional job posting methods.

Currently (and at the time of this search being conducted), UF Health is in the midst of a major capital construction program, which consists of building two hospitals, UF Health Heart & Vascular Hospital and UF Health Neuromedicine Hospital. The $415M project encompasses a total of 521,104 square feet with both hospitals being housed in one contiguous building. The Director role entails creating a new security and safety plan for these new hospitals.

While many professionals in safety, security, and transportation positions with institutions come from law enforcement backgrounds, UF Health wanted the new Director to have a customer service mindset. Therefore, they sought a professional who would have the ability to interface effectively with end-users and staff and the expertise to lead, build upon, and further sophisticate the existing team of talented individuals. Versatility, superb interpersonal skills, and a collaborative management style were essential as well as knowledge of building safety standards, life safety, OSHE, and Joint Commission; a thorough understanding of how to navigate the complexities associated with a major healthcare system; and the capability to tactfully connect with emergency and fire management.  

Because strong customer service and interpersonal skills in candidates were a focus for UF Health, our consultants took a direct approach to the recruitment process, sourcing, and attracting candidates who first met the technical requirements of the role and then subsequently assessing their leadership and other soft skills.

Recruiting candidates regionally and nationally, our consultants focused on Directors, Vice Presidents, and Assistant Directors within large healthcare systems. We tailored our approach at the client’s request of attracting a candidate with a customer service focus and diversified the pool of talent by exploring talent from large hospitality and entertainment complexes, such as hotels, casinos, and sports arenas. Additionally, we utilized our existing relationships and networked with the leadership of relevant trade associations to garner referrals and market intelligence to further understand the necessary capabilities of candidates. Networking and having conversations with individuals who are immersed in the industry provided valuable insight and assisted us in determining which potential candidates were more customer service-oriented versus those who have more of a law enforcement mindset. 

Working collaboratively with UF Health’s Director, Employment & Recruitment and its Vice President, Facilities, this was a highly efficient executive search that was completed in 73 days (from our contract being executed to an offer being extended). After presenting a slate of well-qualified and diverse candidates, UF Health selected an individual who was the Manager, Public Safety for a large healthcare system in the region. There, she provided oversight of 40+ staff and over 1.6M square feet of space that included a main hospital, medical office building, administration building, and parking facilities. Her responsibilities included security, life safety, communications, and parking services. She also served as the Chairperson of the Environment of Care Committee and the Emergency Preparedness Committee.

Prior to being in that role, the candidate was with the county health department in capacities such as Operations Manager, Environmental Specialist, and Program Evaluator. As Operations Manager, she managed the Public Health Preparedness Program, which involved extensive collaboration and communication across multiple agencies as well as law enforcement and fire rescue.

Beyond her advanced degree, and technical skills and capabilities, the selected candidate is heavily involved in industry trade associations, she has a dynamic and engaging personality, and is a natural leader. Our client has been extremely pleased with the professional’s progress as well as her approach, which is closely aligned with that of the hiring manager. 

Since being secured with our client, the individual has:

  • Increased the morale of her team by implementing altered shift times for security officers.
  • Successfully filled two management positions due to retirements.
  • Been instrumental in planning and creating a new security and safety plan for the new hospitals under construction. 
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Helbling & Associates has helped us fill two key leadership positions. Iíve worked with many search firms over the years and I can attest to the thorough work done by the Helbling team. They did a great job of fact finding to understand the details of the positions we were seeking to fill, and to understand our organizational culture. Candidates were submitted very timely and with strong credentials. Most impressive is Helblingís knowledge of the labor market in their specialty field, and their ability to source and present a variety of candidates.
Director of Employment & Recruitment with University of Florida Health
Wes Miller, Managing Director - Southeast

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